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  • False Conversion
  • False Dilemma
  • False Effect
  • Far-Fetched Hypothesis
  • Faulty Comparison
  • Gambler’s Fallacy
  • Genetic Fallacy
  • Hasty Generalization
  • Having Your Cake
  • Hedging
  • Historian’s Fallacy
  • Homunculus Fallacy
  • Hypnotic Bait and Switch
  • Hypothesis Contrary to Fact
  • The Fallacies: If–Mu
  • If-By-Whiskey
  • Illicit Contraposition
  • Illicit Major
  • Illicit Minor
  • Illicit Substitution of Identicals
  • Inconsistency
  • Inflation of Conflict
  • Jumping to Conclusions
  • Just Because Fallacy*
  • Just In Case Fallacy
  • Least Plausible Hypothesis
  • Limited Depth
  • Limited Scope
  • Logic Chopping
  • Ludic Fallacy
  • Lying with Statistics
  • Magical Thinking
  • Meaningless Question
  • Misleading Vividness
  • Missing Data Fallacy*
  • Modal (Scope) Fallacy
  • Moralistic Fallacy
  • Moving the Goalposts
  • Multiple Comparisons Fallacy
  • The Fallacies: Na–Ri
  • Naturalistic Fallacy
  • Negating Antecedent and Consequent
  • Negative Conclusion from Affirmative Premises
  • Nirvana Fallacy
  • No True Scotsman
  • Non Sequitur
  • Notable Effort
  • Overwhelming Exception
  • Package-Deal Fallacy
  • Poisoning the Well
  • Political Correctness Fallacy
  • Post-Designation
  • Prejudicial Language
  • Proof by Intimidation
  • Proving Non-Existence
  • Quantifier-Shift Fallacy
  • Quantum Physics Fallacy*
  • Questionable Cause
  • Rationalization
  • Red Herring
  • Reductio ad Absurdum
  • Reductio ad Hitlerum
  • Regression Fallacy
  • Reification
  • Relative Privation
  • Retrogressive Causation
  • Rights To Ought Fallacy*
  • The Fallacies: Sc–Wi
  • Scapegoating
  • Selective Attention
  • Self-Sealing Argument
  • Shoehorning
  • Slippery Slope
  • Special Pleading
  • Spiritual Fallacy*
  • Spotlight Fallacy
  • Statement of Conversion
  • Stereotyping
  • Stolen Concept Fallacy
  • Strawman Fallacy
  • Style Over Substance
  • Subjectivist Fallacy
  • Subverted Support
  • Sunk-Cost Fallacy
  • Suppressed Correlative
  • Texas Sharpshooter Fallacy
  • Tokenism
  • Two Wrongs Make a Right
  • Unfalsifiability
  • Unwarranted Contrast
  • Use-Mention Error
  • Weak Analogy
  • Willed Ignorance
  • Wishful Thinking
  • Appeal to Pity

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    argumentum ad miserecordiam

    (also known as: appeal to sympathy, the Galileo argument [form of])

    Description: The attempt to distract from the truth of the conclusion by the use of pity.

    Logical Form:

    Person 1 is accused of Y, but person 1 is pathetic.

    Therefore, Person 1 is innocent.


    X is true because person 1 worked really hard at making X true.

    Example #1:

    I really deserve an “A” on this paper, professor.  Not only did I study during my grandmother’s funeral, I also passed up the heart transplant surgery, even though that was the first matching donor in 3 years.

    Explanation: The student deserves an “A” for effort and dedication but, unfortunately, papers are not graded that way.  The fact that we should pity her has nothing to do with the quality of the paper written, and if we were to adjust the grade because of the sob stories, we would have fallen victim to the appeal to pity.

    Example #2:

    Ginger: Your dog just ran into our house and ransacked our kitchen!

    Mary: He would never do that, look at how adorable he is with those puppy eyes!

    Explanation: Being pathetic does not absolve one from his or her crimes, even when it is a puppy.

    Exception: Like any argument, if it is agreed that logic and reason should take a backseat to emotion, and there is no objective truth claim being made, but rather an opinion of something that should or should not be done, then it could escape the fallacy.

    Let's not smack Spot for ransacking the neighbor's kitchen—he's just too damn cute!

    Tip: Avoid pity in argumentation.  It is a clear indicator that you have weak evidence for your argument.

    Variation: The Galileo argument requests pity for unusual claims, like that of Galileo’s sun-centered solar system, without providing sufficient evidence for the claims.

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